Less than a week after passing orders saying no to provision of civic amenities like water, street lights, roads, sewage and even healthcare facilities to the illegally constructed settlements in the reserved forest area and mangrove belts, the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) has now made a U-turn by seeking omission of some land parcels from the forest tag.
In his letter (dated 2 July 2021) to the Additional Principal Chief Conservation of Forest (Mangrove Cell), municipal commissioner Dilip Dhole has pointed out land parcels in the villages including Penkarpada, Navghar, Rai, Chowk and Bhayandar need to be excluded from the forest area so as ensure proper maintenance of existing facilities including public toilets, crematoriums, community halls, nullahs, and roads which cater to the needs of citizens living in more than two decade old pre-2000 tenements and slum-clusters.
“To chalk out an elaborate roadmap for further action, we have sought clarity on some land parcels which have been listed as forest areas,” said Dhole.
Notably, most of the affected areas are considered to be vote banks of local political leaders who have patronized thousands of illegal slum clusters in eco-sensitive areas. Notably, the move is in contrast to MBMC's earlier stand that civic amenities will not be provided to illegal structures falling under the reserved forest area even as the government will be sought to decide the fate of existing illegalities.
Around 1036 hectares (more than 2500 acres) of mangrove belts in the twin-city have been declared as “reserve forest area” consisting of mangroves which act as buffers during natural disasters such as tsunamis and cyclones.
The MBMC has also cited issuance of work orders to contractors for developmental work which is still incomplete. The classification process is a part of the forest department’s campaign to bring all mangrove forests in Maharashtra under the purview of section 20 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA).